When we review the most common problems that appear in old age, those that affect the feet will most likely go completely unnoticed.
But if we stop to think about how the feet allow us to walk, stand upright and maintain balance through the nerve endings located on the plantar surface, the health of the feet should receive much more attention.
Over the years, the structures that make up the areas of the foot and ankle change, and the skin in that area ages, which can lead to people over 65 years of age suffering chronic pain or falls.
According to the Official College of Podiatrists of Galicia, between 71% and 90% of the elderly suffer from some podiatric disease that affects the bones, the vascular system, the skin, or the toenails.
The most common bone abnormalities in the feet are bunions, claw toes, overlapping toes, or geriatric flat feet.
Among the vascular problems that are often repeated in the extremities of the elderly are venous thromboses, vascular insufficiencies, thrombophlebitis, or necrosis.
With regard to the skin, calluses or hyperkeratosis are the most common problem. Corns, rooster’s eyes, dryness that produces fissures and cracks, and often suffers from athlete’s skin are also common.
Finally, and probably because of the difficulty in cutting them, fingernails, thickened nails, and fungus appear on the nails.
Any of these conditions in the feet can become a source of infection if not treated correctly, and can even incapacitate the elderly person who suffers from them.
And although aging will not be able to prevent it, it is possible to try to prevent the appearance of this type of injury. But, as they assure from the Professional College of Podiatry of Madrid, this prevention must begin years before old age.
Going regularly to the podiatrist and moisturizing your feet frequently are some of the recommended practices.
Once the injury, of whatever type, is produced, Madrid podiatrists make a series of recommendations, both hygiene and footwear, to reduce the impact of injuries.
Regarding hygiene, they advise washing the feet daily with warm water and neutral soaps; remove moisture from the foot, without forgetting the area between the toes; and apply moisturizer once dry.
When cutting the nails, it is best to avoid rounding them or leaving peaks. We must cut them straight.
In the case of the appearance of hardness, it should be the podiatric specialist who is in charge of eliminating them. They should not be removed at home with blades or patches.
And, of course, move. Walking and exercising will also affect the health of our feet.
If there is something complicated for an older person, it is to find footwear that does not rub or bother, and that facilitate movement without pain.
That is why podiatry specialists recommend wearing shoes for each activity (being at home, going for a walk, doing physical exercise…). And the best thing is that the shoe is made of leather, avoiding plastic or synthetic products.
Better than the leather is flexible and that the shoe has a wide and high upper because it will improve the mobility of the fingers and perspiration.
If they have laces and the sole is made of non-slip and flexible rubber, even better.
2 or 4 centimeters of the heel will be enough. Of course, it is important to choose a number that exceeds the foot between half and a centimeter.
And with the shoes chosen, we will always opt for cotton or thread socks, not synthetic, to allow perspiration.
And if the specialist so indicates, compression stockings to promote circulation in the foot.
In short, the geriatric foot is especially sensitive, so it is best to go to a podiatrist, who will decide what is the best treatment for each injury.